Yesterday Dominic Raab refused to offer further details about his Crete holiday when pressed at least nine times by MPs, labelling the questions a “fishing expedition”.
Mr Raab faced accusations in the media of paddle boarding and swimming at the beach on the last day of his holiday, but following his return to the UK, he described these accusations as “absolute nonsense”.
Raab has flown to Doha to discuss the safe passage of British nationals and Afghan allies from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The minister’s trip comes after he was grilled by MPs on the foreign affairs select committee on Wednesday afternoon over his handling of the crisis in Afghanistan.
As he faced questions from the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Foreign Secretary was also told it was a “bad idea” for him, the Prime Minister and high-ranking Government officials to all take holiday while Kabul was seized by the Taliban.
He refused 11 times to reveal when he started his five-star beach holiday as Kabul fell to the Taliban.
Members of the committee repeatedly pressed Mr Raab to tell them when he went on holiday, with Labour former minister Chris Bryant asking him three times, and SNP MP Stewart Malcolm McDonald asking him on six occasions.
Mr Bryant said: “On August 11, the US said the Taliban were likely to seize the whole country, it was just a question of how long it was going to take. Were you already on holiday?”
Mr Bryant pressed Mr Raab on his holiday, with the minister repeating he “would not have gone away, with the benefit of hindsight”, before insisting: “I am not going to start adding to, frankly, the fishing expedition beyond the facts that I have articulated and the fulsome statement and having answered questions on this continuously.”
The Foreign Secretary also faced questions about how his Government department, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) administered the evacuation from the UK.
SNP MP Mr McDonald said military personnel involved in the evacuation from Kabul had been asked to cancel all leave on July 23.
“Did you initiate a similar process for the Foreign Office?” he asked the Foreign Secretary.
Mr Raab replied: “No, what I did was make sure that we had cover, a decent rota, specifically because we didn’t know for how long this would endure.
“Of course, we were pressing for an extension of the window, in which case you need to make sure with emergency responses and indeed your team theatre that you are able to resource those properly but also make sure you can maintain it. Otherwise you have got a much greater risk of mistakes.”
Well this refusal to answer the simple question of when he went on holiday, a question that really isn’t very difficult led author Micheal Rosen to comment on Raab’s evasion of the question.
He wrote: “I wasn’t in Crete and if I was in Crete I wouldn’t know when I was in Crete and if I did know I was in Crete I wouldn’t tell you when I was in Crete and if I didn’t tell you when I was in Crete it’s because I don’t know where Crete is and if I did the sea would be closed anyway.”
I wasn’t in Crete and if I was in Crete I wouldn’t know when I was in Crete and if I did know I was in Crete I wouldn’t tell you when I was in Crete and if I didn’t tell you when I was in Crete it’s because I don’t know where Crete is and if I did the sea would be closed anyway.— Michael Rosen ???? (@MichaelRosenYes) September 1, 2021
He wasn’t the only person who struggled with Raab’s refusal to say when he went on his luxury vacation.
Telegraph has got hold of the full risk report from the Foreign Office cited in today’s Afghan committee.— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) September 1, 2021
Here’s the most eye-catching section in full. Report dated July 22. Two weeks before Raab went on hol (Aug6). Three weeks before Kabul fell (Aug15).https://t.co/cuCb3E9TrI pic.twitter.com/TXRoKA1iu0
Local people in the area, where @DominicRaab stayed in Crete, said the sea wasn’t closed. Meteorologists confirmed the sea wasn’t closed. Alan Johnson said the sea wasn’t closed. He adds Raab is toast. ?☠️pic.twitter.com/PdzPtJsl40— The Churchill Project (@WinstonCProject) September 1, 2021
Showbiz news: Dominic Raab is going to have a cameo part in the revival of the series All Crete-ures Great and Small.— Michael Rosen ???? (@MichaelRosenYes) September 1, 2021
After seeing Dominic Raab’s performance yesterday, Gavin Williamson will today be making a determined effort to reclaim the title of Most Useless Minister.— Parody Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson_MP) September 2, 2021
Principal risk reports, the Good Friday Agreement, the Ladybird Book of British ports… is there anything Dominic Raab reads?— Keith Burge (@carryonkeith) September 2, 2021
Tom Tugenhadt quoted a risk report yesterday , in the Raab grilling , dated 22 July 2021 warning of a rapid rise to power of the Taliban . Raab was surprised that it came from his own department ! It’s Thursday today Dominic , just in case you were wondering .— Gary James ? ??? #FBPE , 3.5% ,#BLM #GTTO (@GJSSONGWRITER) September 2, 2021
Raab’s “how did I get here?” face never fails pic.twitter.com/UO8OBJhH7n— Al Murray – DKMS.ORG.UK (@almurray) September 2, 2021
Don’t be too hard on Dominic Raab. The Afghanistan situation threw up so many impossible challenges and questions like, er, “what date did you go on holiday?”pic.twitter.com/QgMs1PStcD— David Schneider (@davidschneider) September 1, 2021
Raab “The source of that?”— Jude ?? ? (@jude5456) September 1, 2021
“It’s your principle risk report”. ? pic.twitter.com/jAIgUGocQo